Health risks, hazards and the way to avoid it. Laser related of course


As fascinating this hobby is, little knowledge is a dangerous thing. As I was trying to engrave with Dry Moly - I got nauseous. I feel poisoned for real. That horrible smell. Please never try it because I did already. Not worth it!

I got that concern a while ago about health effects of this hobby, because pretty obviously we are dealing with significant amount of particulate and chemical matters. I like to watch that laser in work. Every time I do - my wife passing by complaining about smell from using laser. It did not bother me till that Molly burn.

Playing with tiles I had an idea that it is very possible that some particulate matter is generated. Tiles being covered with Silica probably can cause Silicosis with generated dust of it. Quick search and sure enough - there are studies already, and warnings, like this.

This is getting worse with proliferation of cheap laser machines with ever more powerful lasers.
That “$79” machine extensively discussed here, has absolutely nothing to reduce pollution.
While experimenting with glass, I can confirm that small particulates are loosened from glass, small as a dust can be inhaled, another risk of Silicosis.
Paint burn products form “NWT” method, or black paint from glass, all byproducts will end up airborne.

I do not think that in our lifetime there will be specific study on users of personal laser burners and correlation with increased diseases we get. Unless Skynet picks up that metadata and decided that we are danger to our self. We all know how it ends…

My point: lets practice safe lasering! Know that this hobby has risks. Worse - risks are not obvious. Pay attention. Share what you know, because many have no idea.

My #1: Silica. It is main ingredient in tiles glazing. While bonded after firing glaze - lasering or scratching it may loosen it up and easily inhaled. My new batch of tiles from Lowes has that silica dust all over it. I had to wash it before taking it to the machine. Mow I have to find safer spot for my laser equipment in the shed, add exhaust hood, use respirator while at it.

#2: most burnt stuff, like paint base, VOC, organics form Elmer’s glue etc, are all in the air. Exhaust is the best option, I think. At very least set HEPA with charcoal air filter right next to your laser.

Stay safe!


Thanks for sharing your experience. I’m curious if the nauseating component was the molybdenum disulfide itself or perhaps some of the other ingredients in that particular product. Molybdenum disulfide is often the “active” ingredient in marking products so knowing what causes the issue would help make more informed decisions about similar products.

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The other components are only solvent and propellant. I know how Acetone and LPG smells, and that was not it. So I’m very certain that this is Molybdenum Disulfide. Its MSDS is fun read.

H336 – May cause drowsiness or dizziness
H340 – May cause genetic defects
H350 – May cause cancer
(These warnings appeared for Acetone only, not related to Moly. As a fact - manufacturer does not mention toxicity of the MolyDisulfide. Then in court they may argue that intent is for the apps below 650F.)

I have CerMark bottle, it’s smell is also not pleasant but nowhere near dry moly.

My guess that CerMark is Molybdenum Disulfide with sufficient addition of ceramic glazing mix. I can see CerMark has addition of dark gray particulate and Dry Moly does not, later leaves shiny-er mark.

I took a quick look at Molybdenum Disulphide and found that it Sublimates (solid straight to vapour) at 450C.

This seems to be substantially below the glass-point for the ceramics that you’d want to fuse the the Molybdenum into.

The vapour appears to be a real risk. A quick google uncovered this:

wow… the MoS2 reacts with water in soft tissue to make H2S.
Yeah, that’s kinda ugly.

Kind of a surprise to me …

Your nose helps to protects you, bad smelling food tells you to avoid it… when you smell something bad, avoid it… including skunks… :crazy_face:

If you’re running a laser and you smell anything, it’s going right down your lungs and probably staying there if it’s a particulate… Lungs are good filters… they keep all the debris.

Unfortunately there are many bad things we can’t smell …

I suspect that’s the reason and success for commercial products that are safe to lase, like Cermark or Laser Bond.

Too bad these Chinese lasers don’t really vent properly, at least my China Blue doesn’t. It depends on it ‘leaking’ into the cabinet. I have to leave the lid open about an inch to allow for good flow across the work piece… :frowning:



Relying on your nose is not a good strategy or alternative to PPE. I prefer respirator and exhaust hood.
I’ve already said that most of the time I’m sitting next to my laser and do not smell a thing, my wife however does . (Now I suspect it maybe just me and not a lasered matter :nauseated_face:).
But you are right, this hard particulate matter, getting stuck in lungs and may cause silicosis.

CerMark is not from saints either. They claim ceramic and metal powder. A lot if it hanging in the air when spraying. This is not a VOC that evaporated. CerMark is exactly the high concentration of very fine particulate matter. Just use respirator please.